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Socrates was one of the greatest Greek philosophers. His work was not to propose any specific knowledge or policy: it was to show how argument, debate, and discussion could help men to understand difficult issues. Most of the issues he dealt with were only political on the surface. Underneath, they were moral questions about how life should be lived. Such is the influence of Socrates that philosophers before him are called the Presocratic philosophers. Socrates made enemies, three of whom brought charges against him. Socrates was tried for his life in 399 BC, found guilty, and put to death by drinking hemlock. The story of his trial and death is the subject of a tract by Plato which is called the Apologia. Most of what we know about…show more content…
In Plato's works, Socrates says he knows nothing, but can draw out other people's ideas just as his mother helped other women to give birth. In 399 BC, when Socrates was an old man, three citizens—Meletus, Anytus and Lycon—brought charges against Socrates. A trial was held. In ancient Athens the procedure was quite different from the present day. There was a jury of 500 men drawn from the citizens. Both the accusers and the defendant had to make speeches in person to the jury. Guilt or innocence was by majority vote. There was no preset penalty if the verdict was 'guilty'. Both the accuser and the defendant would make speeches proposing what the penalty should be. Again, a vote was taken. There were two charges against him. The general theme was that Socrates was a menace to society. The first charge was of heresy, disbelief in the Gods. It was probably meant to cause prejudice amongst the jurymen. Actually, Socrates observed all the correct procedures of the religion of his times. The charge had been used successfully against another philosopher, Anaxagoras. The second charge was that he corrupted the youth with his teachings. What was meant by this? Apparently, this was not about his personal relationship with his pupils. It was about the way he was thought to influence their political views. His circle had included a number of right-wing aristocrats whose ideas were now rejected by most citizens. The brilliant

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